Gender Differences in Achievement

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Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess the view that gender differences in achievement are largely the result of changes in the education system.

According to a source from DfES (2007) although results for both sexes have improved at all levels over the years, the girls rate of improvement has been more rapid, opening up a significant gap, particularly at GCSE level. in 1995/86 boys achievement was at 26% with girls just 1% higher at 27%. By 2006/07 boys achievement was at 56% with girls a considerate 10% higher at 66%. Reasons for such an increased gap come from both internal and external factors. Looking at changes in the education system the internal factors that are needed to be addressed consist of equal opportunities policies, positive role models in school, GCSE and coursework, teacher attention and classroom interaction, sterotypes and selection and league tables. Many sociologists argue that feminists have had a major impact on the education system. Policies such as WISE(Women into science and engineering) and GIST(Girls into science and technology) have encouraged girls to pursure careers in what are thought to be non-traditional areas. Similarily the introduction to the national curriculum in 1998 which made boys and girls study mostly the same subjects has impacted in differences in gender achievement with Alison Kelly(1987) arguing that making science part of the compulsory curriculum for all pupils helps to equalise opportunities. However, Jo Boaler(1998) sees the impact of equal opportunities policies due to schools becoming more meritocratic as the main reason for girls improved achievement because they generally work harder than boys. In recent years there has been an increase in female teachers and head teachers who may be seen as role models for young girls showing them that women can achieve as well as men but will have a negative effect of boys due to lack of role models. Having female role models can inspire...
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